It Could Have Been Me


Robin Williams played Genie in my favorite ever Disney film, Aladdin

Robin Williams played Genie in my favorite ever Disney film, Aladdin

Robin Williams died yesterday.

When I heard the news, I was at a wedding reception. My immediate reaction was to make light of it. Not because I found even a shred of humor in his death, but because of where I was. I did not want anything to dim the newlyweds’ joy. Yet the happiness of the young couple was not the only reason I tried to shrug off the sadness of Mr. Williams’ death. I just did not want to admit, even to myself right then, how deeply the news was affecting me. I did not want to make room for the thought pushing to the front of my mind.

“That could have been me.”

Every newscast talks about the addictions he battled throughout his life. Most talk about the deep, consuming depression that marked the final months of his life. Some even suggested that Robin Williams was able to use the humor that entertained fans for decades to hide the depth of his family and friends.

I’ve been there. I don’t have the acting chops or comedic timing of Mr. Williams. But I have faced depression and addiction, even suicidal thoughts. I’ve hidden these things from my family and friends. Sometimes I’ve been very successful at hiding, sometimes I haven’t. For years I have lived with the fear that these demons would be the end of me. Even now, when it may appear to others that I have my life together and my issues under control, I am scared that one of those monsters might jump out and grab hold of me.

My addiction is what concerns me most. I don’t do any illegal drugs and I very rarely drink. My drug of choice is food. I am an emotional eater, using food to celebrate victories or mourn losses. Sometimes I crave sweet and creamy; sometimes I crave salty and crunchy. The problem with food addiction is that I can’t stop eating. God designed my body to require food in order to survive. The types and amounts that I shovel into my mouth, though, are not a requirement. Even knowing that, I can’t make myself stop. And that depresses me more. Which makes me reach for more food I should not eat. Which adds to depression. Which….

You get the picture.

I am relatively sure that depression won’t “get me.” Difficult as it has been, I have accepted that this depression is a part of who I am and the treatment for it will always be a part of my life. Those closet to me have learned the signs of an untreated me- because I have made the choices in the past to stop treatment. They know what to look for and for the most part they know what to say to make me choose to get back to treatment. At this point, in time, I feel confident that depression will not bring an end to my life.

I can’t say the same about food.

Robin WIlliams as Peter Pan in Hook in my second favorite of his films.

Robin WIlliams as Peter Pan in Hook in my second favorite of his films.

My sons like the movie Spaceballs. There is a scene where a newscaster says Pizza the Hut got locked in a car and ate himself to death. Now, I don’t think I will literally eat myself to death, but I worry about y food choices could be doing to my body. 1 Corinthians 6:19 says that my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. I am not hurting only me, I am hurting God when I allow my addiction to control me.


Yesterday, the dual demons of addiction and depression ended the life of Robin Williams. His legacy of laughter will live on through films and internet clips, though the laughter might be a little bittersweet as the world mourns his loss. Today, I vow to fight those same demons in my life. I don’t know yet what my legacy will be or how many lives I may touch. But with God’s help, I won’t let mental issues keep me from finding out.

Rest in peace, Robin. Enjoy Neverland.

Letter to Our President

Dear President Obama,

I’ve heard a lot of discussion lately about the religion you follow. Some say you are a Christian. Some say you are a Muslim. Based on what I have seen and heard of you, I don’t know what to think. Not that it is really any of my business. This is a country founded on religious freedoms. Sure, as a Christ-following woman, I would prefer to know that the leader of my nation follows Him as well. But this is a personal matter.

The most recent thing that I have heard is that you profess to be a Christian. I imagine that would be a hard thing to do in your job—to claim one religion over another. It seems that you risk offending or even alienating a certain portion of the country by being vocal about what you believe. It must be hard to hold fast to any sort of convictions as President of the United States of America. That would claim to be a Christian is a very admirable thing.

It leads me to a few questions, though. Mainly, it makes me want to ask, “Mr. Obama, what does it mean to you to be a Christian?”

As I said, this is a personal matter. It is not a question that I—or anyone else in this world, for that matter—need to hear the answer to. However, it is one that I hope you are able to answer for yourself.

I can tell you what it means to me to be a Christian. It means love. It means seeing opposing views in this world, meeting people who disagree with everything I’ve ever been taught, and loving them anyway. It means reaching out to those in jail or shivering on a street corner and giving them a helping hand. It means seeing someone who has no idea where their next meal will come from and inviting them into my home for dinner. It means having enough compassion for the sick to hold their hands as they struggle for breath, and listen to what they have to say.

Being a Christian means showing kindness to others. It doesn’t mean letting others walk all over me, or just allowing my right to worship God be stomped all over. I can be firm in my determination to worship Christ according to Biblical principles, while still being kind to those who think I should have less freedom to worship. It means I can love God, I can love Christ, and I can show that love to others—with or without the use of words. I prefer to show that love without words. After all, if people can’t see the love of God in my actions, they are not likely to believe me when I talk about that love.

Above all, being a Christian is more than just a lifestyle choice. It’s more than just a few carefully chosen words. Being a Christian is a life-changing experience. It’s not something that I can just claim one day because it sounds good. It’s a change in my heart, a way of living that I know I’d never be happy without. It is total dependence on Jesus Christ for joy and happiness. It is as much a part of who I am as being and American is.

What is it to you?

Lynn McMonigal

Search for SYMMETRY

Jessica Cassady is fighting to keep herself grounded while her life begins to fall apart. It starts with a late-night phone call to her husband’s hotel room, which is answered by a woman. Follow this with the realization that her constant hair pulling is a disease, the discovery of a lost chance at love from years ago, and the separation of her parents, and Jess has every reason to fall apart. Instead, she takes control of her illness, reaches out to others in similar situations, and forges new friendships. She also finds a new appreciation for her mother as they comfort one another over their marital problems.

Joyce Sterling Scarbrough’s novel Symmetry is a very real tale of love and life. She details Jessica’s illness in a very informative way. Before reading this, I had no idea there was a hair pulling disorder (trichotillomania). Joyce explains the illness, the symptoms, and the treatment that works for Jessica in a very compelling way. This is not the entire plot of the book, nor is it the one thing that truly defines who Jessica Cassady is. Rather, it is one trait that has made her into the woman she has become. As the author suffers from a form of this disorder herself, she is very knowledgeable on the subject. I really enjoyed the way she used this book as a way to highlight the disorder rather than making it into a novel strictly about tricohtillomania.

There is one little thing I did not like about the book. The woman who causes a rift between Jessica and her husband is named Lynn. Couldn’t she have picked a more fitting name for that character? Seriously now!  Lynn?  It bugs me to be blamed for soemthing I didn’t even do!

This was a fun read and a great book. I look forward to reading more from Joyce Sterling Scarbrough in the future.

Sorry there is no picture for this book.  Technical issues this morning!!!  You can purchase the book at this link

You can visit Blue Attitude, the blog of Joyce Sterling Scarbrough, at

A Chat With Christa Allan

Christa Allan, Author of WALKING ON BROKEN GLASS

After reading Walking on Broken Glass, I wanted to know more—more about the book and more about the author.  Funny how just asking for information leads to more than can be processed in one sitting! 

 This morning, I am pleased to share a recent interview with the book’s author, Christa Allan.  Her work has really touched my heart, and I am sure it will touch yours as well.  I can hardly wait to read more from her.

 God bless you, Christa.

 Lynn McMonigal

Tell us a little about Leah Thornton.  Where did she come from?  Is she a real person in your life?  Or does she exist only in the pages of your book?

 After spending so much time with Leah, I experienced separation anxiety when the book was published!  She’s not a “real” flesh and blood person, but I do see her as a composite of many women.

 What was the most difficult part of writing this book for you?

 This being my first novel, I struggled with self-doubt. Did my writing ring true? Did I say too much? Not enough?  I’ve discovered that writers write what most people think but hesitate to voice. Yet, I constantly had to quiet the voice in me that would whisper, “What if you’re just a wingnut, and no one else thinks this but you?”

 Reading Walking on Broken Glass was a very emotional experience for me.  It brought up a lot of things in my life that I had hidden for much too long.  Was writing the book as emotional for you?

 Absolutely. Although Leah’s experiences as a recovering alcoholic weren’t exactly my own, I still had to dig trenches in my twenty plus years of buried memory of having been someone who drank way too much too often.  And the journal entries were especially difficult, but I know they would reveal Leah‘s vulnerability and pain.

 What do you want readers to come away with after reading this novel?

 Hope. I want readers to close the book and know that God’s grace can meet them where they are, and that our God never leaves us in the trenches. I pray readers are encouraged to face challenges in their own lives or those they may witness in the lives of those they love, and find courage knowing that grace waits on the other side of the decision.

 Leah’s stronghold was alcohol, but the truth is we’re all addicted to something, If not alcohol, it’s other drugs, food gambling, shopping, pornography, sex, control, gossip, power…And those strongholds block our view of God and His promises of hope.

 The ending of the book left me with quite a few “What happens next?” questions.  So I have to ask—are there more stories about Leah and Carl in the works? 

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  Absolutely! I planned a prequel and a sequel. I’m just hoping that the sequel has an opportunity to become a book! Leah, Carl, Molly, Devin, Leah’s father and brother, and a few surprises are planned for the sequel.

 What else should readers know about you and your work?  Take as much space as you need!!

 I am so humbled by all that’s happened to me since Rachelle Gardner, my agent, sold the novel to Barbara Scott at Abingdon Press. Excited? Yes!  But, honestly, all I could think then and even now is, “Who am I that my dreams should come true?”   God’s generosity stuns me! In the two months since Walking on Broken Glass released, I’ve been so grateful that Leah’s struggle resonates in readers.  And that’s my passion for writing, to expose all the “elephants in the room” we don’t talk about, but surely are stepping on our toes and squeezing the life out of many of us.


Being Christian doesn’t exempt us from problems; in fact, it sometimes exacerbates them.  But often, because we’re Christian, we sometimes fear acknowledging that we’re struggling with issues.  So many of us suffer in silence, and to what end? “We’re only as sick as our secrets,” is an adage I picked up somewhere along the way that drives me to push the truth to the surface.  We can’t drive out the demons if we continue to feed them with despair.


Throughout the time I wrote this novel, well-meaning people advised me that the Christian market may not be ready for a novel rooted in alcoholism and recovery, and that being a never-before-published writer would certainly be the death knell. A few times, I actually tried writing something else. It didn’t work. I couldn’t abandon Leah.  Or she refused to go away!  I just felt so strongly that there were readers waiting for her story. 


I often tell my students that we never know just by looking at people what’s going on in their lives.  So many people look so bright-faced happy and pretty on the outside that we’re duped into believing they lead charmed lives.  Like those families in the picture frames sold in stores (who ARE those people, by the way?!). But turn those pictures over, and what’s there…nothing.   That’s not the life God planned for us. He wants our lives to be framed by His love. We called to compassion, and to consider that all those “pretty people” might just be waiting for someone to take them out of their frames.


And, finally, I hope my being published encourages everyone who reads this to hold fast to their dreams. Don’t let someone steal those dreams from you. Be prayerfully persistent, and believe that every “no” brings you a step closer to a “yes.”  No doubt there are those who are better writers than I; the difference is I didn’t give up. But I also didn’t do it alone. So, if your dream is writing or painting or singing or baking or doctoring or whatever-ing, surround yourself with a support team. Find people who are where you want to be, and be teachable. Know that someone, somewhere is waiting for your dream to happen because you’re going to make a difference in their lives.


Thank you, Christa, for taking the time to answer these questions. 

 Blessings to you Lynn for this opportunity to share Leah and myself with your readers.

You can read more about Christa Allan at her website,

Christa Allan’s Walking on Broken Glass

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    Have you ever read a book that felt like it had been written just for you? How about one that seemed as if it had been written about you? Until recently, I hadn’t. After reading Walking on Broken Glass, the debut novel by Christa Allan, I can’t say that anymore.

    On the surface, the story is nothing like my life. Leah Thornton has spent her life turning to alcohol, rather than facing the problems in her life. The death of her infant daughter leads her to depend more and more on beer, wine, and liquor to get through a day. Her best friend Molly and an interesting encounter with frozen apple juice force Leah to face that alcohol isn’t covering up her problems, it is intensifying them. It has become her problem.

    As Leah enters rehab and travels toward a life of sobriety, she learns more about herself. She’s not perfect, with or without a drink in hand, and life is not perfect. Along the way, she realizes that she needs a relationship with God in order to be whole. Even with Him, her life still isn’t going to be perfect, but for the first time in a very long time Leah has hope.

    Leah’s struggles made me face something inside of me. My daughter died before having a chance to live. I handled her death a lot like Leah and the others she met during rehab handled the tough times in their lives. I didn’t drown out the pain of my miscarriage with alcohol or cocaine or pot. My drug of choice was food. I didn’t really realize that until I read this—that food has become a bit of an addiction for me. Ten days ago we “celebrated” the fifth anniversary of Rylee’s passing. I didn’t curl up in a ball and cry all day as I had often done in the past. I didn’t even have to sit and cuddle with the Care Bear we bought as a reminder. I thought that meant I was doing a good job of moving on with my life. Who knows? Maybe I am. But the fact that every thought of her makes me want to stuff something into my mouth makes me wonder.

    And it makes me not want to see my life and my marriage become as out of control as Leah’s.

    Through this book, Allan gives a deep, realistic look into addictions. Her descriptions of Brookforest are vivid. I’ve never been in rehab myself, but I could see this place in my mind, could smell the stale cigarette smoke in the air, could feel the vinyl of the chairs. More than once, the situations her characters describe brought me to tears.

    To me, the measure of a good book is that it makes the reader feel. Walking on Broken Glass is definitely a good book.